Ryan Briscoe secured his first Indianapolis 500 pole, the 17th for Team Penske at the track, and fifth in as many races for the team this season.
Briscoe's four-lap average of 226.484mph in the Firestone Fast 9 shootout edged James Hinchcliffe – who led the times before the shootout - by just 0.003 of a mph, and by 0.0023 of a second over time. Hinchcliffe's 226.481mph average had a more substantial drop-off from lap 1 to lap 4 compared to Briscoe's more consistent run.
"This is huge," said an exuberant Briscoe, who had to wait the final half hour while other drivers attempted to knock him off the pole. "We've just been working on the consistency, especially in this heat, to not have a big delta from lap 1 to lap 4. He had a biggg lap 1. I said he has to make four. This is a big one to win."
Hinchcliffe's Andretti Autosport teammate Ryan Hunter-Reay completed the front row. Marco Andretti and the two remaining Team Penske cars, Will Power and Helio Castroneves, start on row two.
"Yeah, the smallest of margins; it's heartbreaking in a sense," said Hinchcliffe, who recorded the best lap of the session (39.6591 seconds on Lap 1 of his second attempt). "I'm going to lose a little bit of sleep over how small that margin was to Ryan and knowing that we had it there for three laps, but you know that's Indy. It's a gust of wind, it's a shadow over a corner that changes and that can be the difference.
"But at the end of the day we get to start on the front row of the Indy 500, and that's just the coolest thing ever. At the end of the day it's a great result for us."
Josef Newgarden was the only Honda runner to make the Fast 9 and will start seventh, ahead of the trio of KV Racing Technology teammates. Although Tony Kanaan and E.J. Viso made the Fast 9, neither ran to try to improve their speeds and positions.
Rubens Barrichello got bumped for a Fast 9 spot by Kanaan, but 10th is still his best qualifying position of the year thus far. Graham Rahal led the Chip Ganassi Racing quartet, who all struggled on the day, in 12th – with Charlie Kimball, Scott Dixon and Dario Franchitti 14th through 16th.
James Jakes was one of the late qualifiers before the track closed to all cars at 4 p.m. ET, bumping his way back into the top 24 with a speed fast enough for 17th on the grid. He starts one spot ahead of JR Hildebrand - Panther Racing again reprising a mid-pack starting position as it focuses primarily on a strong race setup.
Sebastian Saavedra recovered from a blown engine in the morning to bump out Wade Cunningham for the day's last confirmed spot. Cunningham and A.J. Foyt Enterprises teammate Mike Conway will clock in tomorrow, as Conway didn't get in either on Saturday with his time disqualified as his car was underweight. Neither Lotus entry (Jean Alesi, Simona de Silvestro) attempted a qualifying run.
Three drivers – Bryan Clauson, Oriol Servia and Ed Carpenter – all crashed, and their teams have the extra work of repairing their primary cars. Carpenter's Turn 2 crash came at a particularly high rate of speed.
Pos Driver Team/Car Speed
1. Ryan Briscoe Penske DW12-Chevrolet 226.484
2. James Hinchcliffe Andretti DW12-Chevrolet 226.481
3. Ryan Hunter-Reay Andretti DW12-Chevrolet 226.240
4. Marco Andretti Andretti DW12-Chevrolet 225.456
5. Will Power Penske DW12-Chevrolet 225.422
6. Helio Castroneves Penske DW12-Chevrolet 225.172
7. Josef Newgarden Fisher DW12-Honda 224.037
8. Tony Kanaan KV DW12-Chevrolet 224.751
9. EJ Viso KV DW12-Chevrolet 224.422
10. Rubens Barrichello KV DW12-Chevrolet 224.264
11. Alex Tagliani BHA DW12-Honda 224.000
12. Graham Rahal Ganassi DW12-Honda 223.959
13. Ana Beatriz Andretti DW12-Chevrolet 223.920
14. Charlie Kimball Ganassi DW12-Honda 223.868
15. Scott Dixon Ganassi DW12-Honda 223.684
16. Dario Franchitti Ganassi DW12-Honda 223.582
17. James Jakes Coyne DW12-Honda 223.482
18. JR Hildebrand Panther DW12-Chevrolet 223.422
19. Takuma Sato Rahal DW12-Honda 223.392
20. Townsend Bell Schmidt DW12-Honda 223.134
21. Justin Wilson Coyne DW12-Honda 222.929
22. Michel Jourdain Jr. Rahal DW12-Honda 222.893
23. Simon Pagenaud Schmidt DW12-Honda 222.891
24. Sebastian Saavedra Andretti DW12-Chevrolet 222.811
• RACER's latest issue looks at heroes in several disciplines, including Team Penske's Rick Mears, going into the Indianapolis 500. Click here to learn more.
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